Engaging the public with research: a toolkit for higher education and library partnerships


Evidence from the programme shows that working with higher education institutions (HEIs) on public engagement has many benefits for public library services, including:

  • Bringing new audiences into library spaces 
  • Changing perceptions of what libraries offer
  • Empowering communities
  • Showcasing the value of libraries and the trusted role that they play in communities.

Higher education institutions can also benefit from working with public libraries on public engagement by:

  • Broadening reach and building links with communities
  • Increasing the relevance of research to the public
  • Benefitting from the unique skills of public library staff
  • Inspiration, new perspectives and ideas for new research.

Here are some examples of public engagement with research activities carried out in public libraries:

Calderdale Libraries and  the University of Manchester did citizen research into air quality in Sowerby Bridge.

Calderdale Libraries: ‘Something in the Air?’

Redbridge, Newcastle and Kirklees Libraries partnered with the University of Northumbria on a project to explore ‘death positive’ libraries.

Redbridge, Newcastle and Kirklees Libraries: 'Death Positive Libraries'

Libraries NI developed a project exploring the importance of hair in identity with Ulster University and community partners Beyond Skin.

Libraries NI: 'Turning Heads'

Oldham Libraries was approached by Vocal at the University of Manchester to explore experiences of radiotherapy with members of the public.

Oldham Libraries: 'Radiotherapy and Me'.